Now the countries cooperating with Interpol may detain the head of the Sea Shepherd. Costa Rica and Japan are expecting Watson’s extradition.
It was already 2 years ago that Japan resorted to the help of Interpol after the Ady Gil trimaran belonging to the Sea Shepherd organization had attacked a Japanese whaling ship. After Watson’s arrest in Germany on May 13 at the request of Costa Rica, Japan demanded his extradition. According to the official representative of the Japan Coast Guard Mr. Kiuchi, accusations were brought not only against the head of the Sea Shepherd, but against the trimaran’s skipper Peter Bethune who had testified against Watson immediately after the incident with the Japanese vessel.
"Paul Watson was not putting obstacles in the way of the whaling ship all by himself, but with the help of Peter Bethune. According to Article 60 of the Japanese Criminal Code, punishment to Peter James Bethune applies to Paul Watson as well. The prosecution may consist of four charges. First of all, it is the "property damage" in the form of throwing bottles, which is punished by corrective work for a term of up to 3 years, or a fine within 300 thousand Japanese yen (about $ 3,800). The second charge is "obstruction of justice". It implies corrective work for a term of up to 3 years, or a fine within 500 thousand Japanese yen (approximately $ 6,400). The third charge is "infliction of a bodily harm", since the members of the crew received burns and other wounds. It implies corrective work for a term of up to 15 years, or a fine within 500 thousand Japanese yen. The fourth charge is "invasion of the vessel" registered on February 15, 2010. It implies corrective work for a term of up to 3 years, or a fine within 500 thousand Japanese yen."
Despite the fact that Japan has joined the moratorium on commercial whale fishery accepted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986, the whaling business in the country is legal. Whaling is subsidized by the government; whale fishery is carried out within the quotas established by Japan. At the IWC meetings the Japanese insist that whale fishery is carried out with strictly scientific views, but whale meat is constantly sold in Japanese supermarkets. The resident of Tokyo, student Toku Naga Yuke expressed the Japanese view of the current situation.
"I stick to a neutral position. Many people in Japan say that whale fishery is our tradition, although almost nobody is interested in killing whales. Eating whale meat is part of our culture. Therefore the situation is difficult. We have to respect our culture, and other countries must take it into consideration. The Japanese do not kill dolphins and whales commercially. Hunting cannot lead to any critical changes. I believe, only small changes can happen that can be understood. They can be settled and kept under control."
There are environmental organizations in Japan that are opposing whaling, but not resorting to extreme methods, like Paul Watson’s. The Executive Director of the Green Peace in Japan Junuchi Sato told about peaceful actions for protection of the marine giants.
"We are working with the market. We ask supermarkets not to sell whale meat in order to influence demand and consumption of whale meat, and achieve its reduction. Most of the supermarkets in Japan have supported us, so the whaling business suffers economic problems."
Whales hunted by the Japanese are not yet entered in the Red Book and are not considered an endangered species. Nevertheless, environmental organizations claim that whale fishery significantly reduces the population of the largest ocean inhabitants.
Masa, a resident of Kyoto, Japan, believes that the reason of the conflict between the Japanese authorities and the defender of whales Paul Watson lies not so much in protecting whales, as in unacceptable interference in somebody else's culture: "Destroying other people’s lifestyle due to its discrepancy with someone's personal beliefs is characteristic of the XVII century. Why Watson does not attack people who kill cows, pigs and kangaroos, I don't understand. Only one reason comes to mind: he can collect money and support of the celebrities only by opposing whalers. In fact we do not take interest in whale meat; we practically do not eat it. But this is a part of our tradition. And no one can demand cancelling it."
In Japanese territorial waters Paul Watson and his international Sea Shepherd team fought against whaling ships, in Costa Rica - against poachers and sharks hunters. Sea shepherds stand up for preserving nature, at the same time destroying other people’s fishery. The countries that demand Watson’s extradition not only fine the Sea Shepherd organization by courts’ decisions. At the same time they are trying to rob the international radical environmental group of its founder and leader in the hope of weakening the team’s power. The battle between the defenders of nature and supporters of business is in full swing.